THE SPECIALIST (1994)

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Directed By: Luis Llosa
Written By: Alexandra Seros
Based on The Specialist series of books By: John Shirley
Cinematography By: Jeffrey L. Kimball
Editor: Jack Hofstra 


Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Sharon Stone, James Woods, Eric Roberts, Rod Steiger 


 Ray Quick is a bomb expert who worked for the CIA along with a guy named Ned Trent, who’s extremely demented. When they have a falling out, Ray becomes a freelancer who lives off the grid. A woman named May Munro contacts and wants him to kill the three men who killed her family years ago, who work for the Leon crime family. Ray does it and after killing the first one, the Leons need to find the one who did it and it turns out Ned is now working for them and they task him with finding the bomber. The Leons get him to work with the police and he looks for the bomber. In the meantime Ray, while working on getting the others, can’t help but follow May wherever she goes.

This film seems to be a studios wet dream by having at the time two big superstars star in a major action film. Though considering the star power it should be a much better film and a more exciting film if nothing else.

You don’t get a lot of movies about professional bombers. Sure assassins, but not one on ones whose main point of action is to blow up his target and make an escape, Of course here Sylvester Stallone is only an ex explosives expert who is supposed to be an assassin. Who seems seduced into a job that also coincidently allows him to get revenge on an old partner who double Crossed him and left him for dead, played energetically by James Woods.

Which leaves us with a film that has a lot of Chase sequences. Though very little actual fun play Except for getting fired at and missing. So it plays much more like a thriller with some action sequences to jazz things up once in a while. Though again those actions sequences are mostly explosions, chase and escape. Not too much gunplay.

Sharon Stone is the ice queen sexpot again in this film. Maintains her star quality but also a certain charm and dignity in the film. At first it doesn’t feel like she belongs, but always seems to fit. As these are the types of roles she played More in Straight to video films before finding stardom in movies. Though like the rest of the cast she knows what type of film she is in and performs accordingly. Though I will say this is one of her sexier roles.

Her role mysterious then revealed to be more or less seeking revenge seems to become familiar in her roles to a point. It is also noticeable that her character is supposed to be younger then she actually is, but makes her chemistry more appropriate. As far as the story.

Sylvester Stallone with his physique plus ROCKY movies. Always appeared to be a more hand to hand action Hero. So seeing him mainly escape, stay hidden and have fewer gun battles feels out of his element a little or at least this is his way of stretching his range. I wonder if it might be as the film wasn’t originally written for him to star and he found the script and wanted to stretch or it might have been a film dependent on a star package of him and Sharon stone.

The film looks great, but isn’t very thrilling as everything is predictable. Even down to Rod Steiger being way over the top and chewing scenery with his Cuban accent as the main villain. Though at least you can tell he is having fun and is such a commanding presence.

It’s nice to see Eric Roberts cast in a blockbuster. Though playing dual roles throws the audience off but makes sense in a way since he is playing the younger version of Rod Steiger and Rod Steiger’s son. Unfortunately even in both these roles he isn’t in the film that long. James Woods is the main villian and as usual in these types of films. He seems to take glee in his performance. Usually going way over the top with manic energy. Though at least he provides most of the movies entertainment.

Sylvester Stallone was actually not the first choice to star in the film. Steven Segal was originally approached and even offered the chance to direct, but he wanted nine million dollars and the studio was not willing to pay that amount. While he was attached the film was offered to The Hughes Brothers (MENACE II SOCIETY) but they turned it down. Once Stallone was on board he wanted David Fincher to direct who was willing but the producers refused to hire him as he was just coming off the failure of ALIEN 3. When Stallone wanted to drop out of the film, the producers threatened to replace him with Warren Beatty supposedly. Giving him only a certain time to sign the contract.

The film had surprisingly graphic sex scenes and some nudity especially for a star of Sharon Stone’s nature at the time. Though as the role they got her stardom was very sexual. I guess she figured this is what half the audience will come for. Though the film provides enough heat in it’s Miami setting. As every scene feels steamy in a good way and bad. One Still wouldn’t expect her to give in to this film. As action films aren’t my usually noted for having them at least this graphic and in a more star studded film, but then again like I said it plays more like a thriller. So an action thriller, Which goes against itself as it seems more sophisticated and takes it’s time. Though seems like it might appeal to teenagers more who can’t see it in theaters but might love it when released in cable or video at the time. It just seemed like a film designed to do better for a home audience. As it plays like an action film that would be parodied easily. It could easily be a parody itself if more intentional humor was added.

This film comes off as a guilty pleasure as it’s not the smartest film of the bunch.

GRADE: D+

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